Issues facing the agricultural and natural resource (ANR) sector can be contentious due to opposing viewpoints, with people working against one another rather than working together to come to consensus on what will benefit the industry as a whole. Without a consistent message, the ANR industry will struggle when trying to gain support from decision makers. Therefore, opinion leaders need the skills to bring individuals and organizations together when facing critical issues that require groups to reach consensus. Agricultural leadership programs can offer educational opportunities for individuals to build problem-solving and team-building skills that will enable them to lead discussions when facing current issues. Unfortunately, little is known about how opinion leaders in the ANR sector work together when facing critical issues or how diverse cognitive styles influence this process. This study explored how cognitive style influenced team dynamics while ANR opinion leaders built consensus around critical ANR issues. Results illustrated that grouping participants by cognitive style influenced how the teams progressed through the consensus building process. The findings and resulting recommendations can assist educators in being selective when assigning groups and developing team-building activities that will prepare ANR opinion leaders to lead cognitively-diverse teams when building consensus.



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